Saudi jets targeted Iranian Embassy, says Teheran

Supporters of the Iran-allied Houthi movement holding banners of prominent Shi'ite cleric Nimr al-Nimr, who was executed in Saudi Arabia last Saturday, during an anti-Saudi protest outside the Saudi Arabian Embassy in Sanaa, Yemen, yesterday.
Supporters of the Iran-allied Houthi movement holding banners of prominent Shi'ite cleric Nimr al-Nimr, who was executed in Saudi Arabia last Saturday, during an anti-Saudi protest outside the Saudi Arabian Embassy in Sanaa, Yemen, yesterday.PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

TEHERAN • Saudi Arabian warplanes "deliberately" struck Iran's embassy in Yemen in an air raid that wounded staff, Teheran said, as tensions between the two regional powers mounted.

"This deliberate action by Saudi Arabia is a violation of all international conventions that protect diplomatic missions," Foreign Ministry spokesman Hossein Jaber Ansari was quoted as saying yesterday.

"The Saudi government is responsible for the damage caused and for the situation of members of staff who were injured," Mr Ansari added, without specifying when the alleged strike took place. "The Islamic republic reserves the right to pursue its interests in this matter."

Often at loggerheads over regional issues, a full-blown split between Sunni-majority Saudi Arabia and Shi'ite-dominated Iran erupted at the weekend when Riyadh executed prominent Shi'ite cleric Nimr al-Nimr along with 46 others.

Sheikh Nimr's death sparked demonstrations in many countries, including Iran, where protesters stormed and set fire to the Saudi Embassy in Teheran as well as the kingdom's consulate in Mashhad.

Riyadh cut ties with Teheran in response and was joined by some of its Sunni Arab allies, including Bahrain and Sudan. The United Arab Emirates also downgraded relations with Iran while Kuwait and Qatar recalled their ambassadors.

A Saudi-led coalition has waged an air war on Iran-allied Houthi rebels in Yemen since last March and the conflict is one of the main sources of dispute between the two regional adversaries.

Saudi coalition spokesman Ahmed Asseri said coalition jets carried out strikes in Sanaa on Wednesday to target missile launchers used by the militia to fire at Saudi Arabia. He said the coalition will investigate Iran's accusation and added that the Houthis have used civilian facilities, including abandoned embassies.

Also yesterday, Iran banned all products from Saudi Arabia and said a ban on Iranians travelling to the Saudi holy city of Mecca for the umrah pilgrimage will remain in place "until further notice".

Meanwhile in Beijing, the Foreign Ministry said China has sent an envoy to Saudi Arabia and Iran, calling on all sides to exercise restraint.

Chinese Deputy Foreign Minister Zhang Ming is currently in Saudi Arabia and will travel on to Iran, a ministry spokesman told reporters.

"We hope the situation in the Middle East can move in the direction of amelioration," she said.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 08, 2016, with the headline 'Saudi jets targeted Iranian Embassy, says Teheran'. Print Edition | Subscribe